JOHN MANVELL – A GRAVE MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE?
FACTS: John Manvell is a 69-year old retired motor mechanic who was convicted at Lewes Crown Court of two charges of sexual assault on July 18 2014 on a three and a half year old girl. He was sentenced to seven-years imprisonment at Hove Trial Centre in September 2014.
John’s appeal against sentence was dismissed in January 2015.
The offences were alleged to have taken place in March 2014.
John comes from a very old and respected Steyning family. He has lived in the West Sussex town all his life. His elder brothers, Pat and Norman, were stalwarts of Steyning Cricket and Football Clubs in the 1960’s and 1970’s. John regularly played cricket for Steyning Rebels and football for Steyning over the same period. John was also a qualified football referee.
John’s family and that of the complainant, who lives near Steyning, have known each other for 12 years. John’s wife, Margaret, had been a child minder to the complainant since her babyhood. She had also acted in the same capacity to the complainant’s brother who is eight years older.
Until the alleged offences took place Margaret had looked after the complainant from 8am until 6pm on a regular basis. The complainant spent much of the days watching television. She got on well with the other four girls whom Margaret looked after.
The complainant always wanted to share the other children’s toys but was not prepared to share her own toys. The four other girls in Margaret’s care also had a good relationship with John and Margaret. John frequently played games with the five girls and the complainant referred to him as “Grandad John” as he treated the five like grandchildren.
The complainant was always very happy when in the company of John and his family. Often she was reluctant to go home.
Such was the relationship that John and Margaret had with the complainant that she insisted that they attended her fourth birthday party.
Prior to the alleged offences there had been no complaints of any untoward behaviour by John towards any of the young children that Margaret looked after in 25 years of child minding.
When John’s daughter, Clare, was very young John rarely dressed or undressed her. Yet he was alleged to have undressed the complainant, committed the offence and dressed the complainant in a 20-minute period when Margaret was taking other children to school.
In that 20 minute period there were two other children in the house. When Margaret returned – after the alleged offences were said to have happened – the complainant showed no sign of distress.
When the offences allegedly took place the front door was unlocked. The family operated an open door policy where it was expected that friends and family members would let themselves in on entry to the house. So anyone could have walked in at any point.
THE TRIAL FACTS
No medical evidence to show that sexual assault had taken place on the complainant at the time of the alleged offences was produced as evidence in court.
At the time of the alleged offences John was receiving medical assistance for impotence. Evidence was given that it would have been impossible for him to have committed a sexual act.
The complainant’s father and brother were not interviewed by the police and, therefore, were not required to give evidence at the trial.
Under cross examination by John’s barrister the complainant maintained that she had been assaulted “a million trillion times.”
The mother of one of the three girls provided a written testimonial. This was not allowed to be used because the prosecution maintained that she had been coerced in to writing it by John’s family.
During his imprisonment John has suffered two brain tumours. These have left him with a speech impediment and a balance problem.
John’s family have a five-hour car journey from Steyning to visit him. They are only allowed three visits per month. The visits only last for one hour.
John’s entire family have suffered immensely as a result of these allegations. His family are receiving treatment for stress, anxiety and depression along with other health problems. His grandchildren are receiving counselling to help them come to terms with the fact their grandfather has been so unfairly removed from their lives.
REACTION TO THE VERDICT.
An unbelievable injustice!! A wonderful; loving family have had their world torn apart, an innocent man and his family are being punished in the worst possible way. I am devastated!! - Hannah Creighton
A totally kind, trustworthy family man. Total miscarriage of justice which has wrecked John and his family's life .IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED!!!! - Lou Coleman
There was no DNA, no evidence and the Jury totally ignored John's professional witness who had travelled from Bristol for the trial. The jury were told they only had a short time to make a decision or they would all have to come back the following week. All these things sadly resulted in the wrong result for an innocent man. - Ruth Witherden
The type of family that I could only have dreamed of having when I grew up. Traditional, close-knit and totally there for each other among a community of close friends in Steyning. A fabulous family torn apart and a kind, loving family man separated and living a nightmare. John needs Justice - Emma Godden
I can't believe it. A whole family's lives changed forever by the words of a child and no other evidence. Truly devastating. Such a lovely, kind family who don't deserve any of this. - Hayley Emmins
We have known John for many years and found him to be an honest and kind person he is also a very family orientated man who loves and cares for his wife and children and a man who would help any-one we have only found good in him and he was liked by many in our town. It has been shocking what has happened and it's beyond belief how much he is suffering as well as his lovely family knowing that he is an innocent man. Sheila Doick
'I have known John all my life, as a child I was friends with his daughter and I played in their home. Both my daughters were cared for in John's home and my youngest was there when the accusations were made. The guilty verdict is truly shocking, totally unjust and I have never regretted my decision to put my children in the Manvells’ care'. Ros Carey.
I have known John for 50 years and have no reason to suspect that he has a dark side. He was convicted on the flimsiest of evidence and there are too many unanswered questions arising from the trial. Consequently there is a huge question mark over whether the case against John was proved beyond reasonable doubt. David Bennett.
John has been badly failed by the system. His case needs urgent investigation. Alan Nicholson.
JOHN’S SUPPORTERS INCLUDE: Margaret Manvell (John’s wife), Clare Ralston (John’s daughter), Richard and James Manvell (John’s sons), Andy Ralston, Ruth Manvell, Renee Supiot, Hannah Creighton, Lou Coleman, Martin Coleman, Ruth Witherden, Roger Witherden, Emma Godden, Hayley Emmins, Adam Hutchings, Brian Doick (MBE), Sheila Doick, Ros Carey, Kelly Crayford, Angie Coulson, Martin Manvell, Tracey Nickisson (Steyning residents); David Bennett (Retired journalist & former Steyning Rebels CC team-mate); Alan Nicholson, Father Nigel Thomas (Vicar of Nerja & Almunecar, Southern Spain),
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
WRITE TO JOHN’S MP, NICK HERBERT MP, HOUSE OF COMMONS, LONDON W1A 0AA EXPRESSING CONCERN ABOUT JOHN’S CASE.
WRITE TO JOHN C/O CLARE RALSTON, 39 COOMBE ROAD, STEYNING, WEST SUSSEX, BN44 3LF.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT CLARE RALSTON (01903 815921) WHO WILL KEEP YOU POSTED WITH LATEST DEVELOPMENTS.